Memories Are Bright As 'Guiding Light' Dims

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Host Scott Simon speaks to Jane Holahan, a long-time fan of the soap opera, Guiding Light. It began as a radio show in 1937 and moved to television in 1952. It is the longest-running drama in TV and radio history. But CBS has canceled the show because of declining ratings. The final show will air on Friday, Sept. 18. Holahan shares her memories of the show.

(Soundbite of theme song, "The Guiding Light")


The introduction to a daily guilty pleasure. "The Guiding Light" has run on radio then television for 72 years. That's since 1937 - to spare you from doing the math - the longest running show in broadcast history, including Dan Schorr. But venerable soap opera comes to an end next Friday.

Jane Holahan of Lancaster, Pennsylvania has followed the show for decades. Thanks for being with us.

Ms. JANE HOLAHAN (Reporter): I'm glad to be here.

SIMON: You have watched since you were 13?

Ms. HOLAHAN: Yeah. Yeah. I started watching with my grandmother.

SIMON: What's kept you going?

Ms. HOLAHAN: Well, every job I've ever had, strangely enough, I get home around three o'clock. So it was a nice time to unwind and sort of escape from the day, and just have some fun with watching characters that I got to know very well.

SIMON: So are there signature moments you recall?

Ms. HOLAHAN: Some of the characters are real standouts. Of course, Reva Shayne was the star of the show for I think probably about the last 27 years. And she had a lot of stunning moments. She's been married nine times.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HOLAHAN: She has come back from the dead twice, once as an Amish woman and once as the princess of Saint Cristobal, which is some mythical kingdom down in the Caribbean, I think.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Now, I regret having missed this show. Now you've got me interested.

Ms. HOLAHAN: Well, I haven't even told you the best.

SIMON: Yeah.

Ms. HOLAHAN: She was a time traveler. She went back in time. And she was cloned. She's done it all.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HOLAHAN: She's on husband number nine and we don't know how it's going to end, if she's going to go back to her true love, Josh, who's she's been married to three times, or if she's going to stay with her current husband. We just, I don't know. We'll find out I guess next Friday.

SIMON: Yeah. I guess that's how you know someone's your true love if you marry them three times, right?

(Soundbite of laughter)


SIMON: Yeah.

Ms. HOLAHAN: I think three does it. Yeah. But the interesting thing about "The Guiding Light" was they had all these whacky storylines, but they'd also have really interesting storylines too, that were more true to life about, you know, people getting ill with cancer. They had a deaf actress who was on for several years and that was very interesting sort of watching her.

And I think that's probably what's kept me going because those crazy ones are, they're kind of fun, but they're not really what you're there for. You're there to sort of see real life lived through these characters.

(Soundbite of theme song, "The Guiding Light")

SIMON: So, going to be a big void in your life after Friday?

Ms. HOLAHAN: I don't know that it's going to be a huge void, but it'll be sad to see it go. It'll definitely be sad.

SIMON: You mentioned every job you've had you got home at 3 p.m. May we ask what your current job is?

Ms. HOLAHAN: Well, I'm a reporter for a newspaper in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

SIMON: And, do you time travel?

Ms. HOLAHAN: Never time traveled yet. And I haven't come back from the dead yet either. So...

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Jane Holahan, speaking with us from member station WITF in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, thanks so much.

Ms. HOLAHAN: Thank you.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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